Featured in Science Magazine today, NuScale Power, a spinout from Oregon State University, is planning simpler, smaller, safer gang-lashable nuclear reactors, with a trial in the early 2020s. A schematic is shown below.
As I’ve noted here elsewhere, the reason why conventional nuclear reactor designs have a negative learning curve is because the industry did not turn the nuclear reactors into commodities, taking advantage of large scale replication.
Despite the unhappiness some have with nuclear power, it is clear that a good solution to most of its ills, including cost and rollout time, would be a godsend for providing the massive amounts of electrical power we need to electrify the entire United States and the world.
I continue to argue that those who oppose such developments on some kind of principle do not understand or appreciate the desperate
solution situation with respect to climate change we have placed ourselves, and the soon-to-be-realized consequences.
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I think you meant “situation.”
One can only pray that modular reactors are not the new fusion – perpetually 20 years away. I did like seeing many former NRC bigwigs on the NuScale advisory board.
Beyond the technical hurdles there is now entrenched NIMBYism with respect to nuclear power by those who either can not differentiate between nuclear power and nuclear weapons or those who imagine the Chernobyl design is where things still stand.
There’s still a lot to be suspicious about regarding the nuclear industry. Why in the world they did not realize or appreciate their negative learning curve and go in the direction of turning it into a commodity on their own defies the imagination. They are supposed to be business people. Also, what happens here will depend upon how quickly this can be realized without problems, and what their upstream emissions are, per unit.
Their risk, though, is that wind and solar and storage might just get cheap enough, fast enough, and roll out big enough so that they lose their entire investment. This puts them in competition with it, and, so, it would be to their advantage to push on regulators and make it more difficult for renewables to save the day.
That would be highly counterproductive.